How long should we keep up the story of Santa with our preteen?
Alex believes it is right to give to the poor and to the less fortunate. She believes everyone should have the same basic rights as others. She believes everyone deserves to have a friend. She believes she can be anything she wants when she grows up. I don’t think she believes in Santa.
The past few years, she started asking us if Santa is real because kids at school were telling her differently. We asked her each time if she believes and without hesitation, she said “yes”. We always told her that he is real then and went on about our Christmas preparations. This time was different.
“Is Santa real? She said and hesitated for a long time. Waiting.
“Do you believe Santa is real?” I answered with my same standard answer that I had every year.
She hesitated again and looked embarrassed when she answered.
“I don’t know. Everyone says he isn’t real and he is really my parents.”
It was my turn to hesitate. I stared into her young child eyes wondering if I should destroy the story we had kept for 10 years. I wanted her to continue to believe not just because of the lie that is often told to kids to threaten them to be good because Santa is watching, but because I was not ready to let go of the magic in her little eyes as she listens in wonder for the bells from reindeer on the roof.
It has been said that believing in Santa is healthy for kids. It is also popular for kids to believe in this fairly overweight man with white hair who breaks into every child’s house in the world one night out of the year. The Christmas stories about Santa, the Grinch and a reindeer with a red nose are watched each year on our TVs. Santa shows up in the malls and at the end of the Macy’s day parade at Thanksgiving each and every year. It’s a tradition most families participate in because it is fun and it has a good message.
Regardless of her belief or unbelief in Santa, she likes to play along with the story of the Elf on the Shelf. Her elf is named “Snowflake”. The elf shows up in new places each day and Alex needs to find her. The elf watches what Alex does during the day and reports back to Santa so that he will know if she has been good or bad. It’s a fun game for both her and us, as her parents, because it is fun to see her light up when she finds the elf. I don’t really want it to end.